On Sunday night, a day before Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the mid-Atlantic, my husband and I had some friends over for dinner. We went back and forth, debating whether it was a good idea to encourage people to come out in what we were told was going to be ever-worsening weather.
After a brief consultation with the weather oracles and our invite list, we pushed on with our little gathering. I made two pots of soup. Friends brought bread, cheese, meatballs and wine. We sat around our living room for hours, munching our way through nearly all the food and appreciating the feeling of being part of a community.
When all that was left were empty bowls, a few crumbs and a cheese rind or two, I brought out dessert. Often, when faced with the challenge of choosing a dessert to serve to guests, I flounder. I waffle between making some ridiculously complicated confection that ends up tasting good but looking terrible or I choke entirely and dash out for cookies and ice cream.
Before you start baking, read these tips
Whole-grain flour and plain low-fat yogurt lighten up traditional brownies, but rich chocolate, cocoa powder and a bit of butter help maintain their classic flavor.
Get the recipe: Ellie Krieger’s Double-Chocolate Brownies
We’re not in the business of doling out financial advice, but we hear gold is up in value — all the more reason to buy some for your next batch of brownies. Get a booklet of “transfer” edible gold leaf (about $40 for 15 three-inch-square sheets; lagoldleaf.com), then brush the top of already-baked brownies with warm honey and, starting in one corner, place a sheet gold side down on top. Gently rub the paper until the gold transfers onto the brownies. An 8-inch-square pan takes about $14 worth of leaf — a downright bargain for a gift of gold.
This is not your average brownie and yes, you can start drooling now.
A crust of butter, sugar and graham cracker is pressed evenly over the bottom of the pan than baked to golden perfection. Next, a thick, fudgy brownie batter gets poured on top and baked just until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. At that point, large marshmallows are added to the top of the dessert and put under the broiler under slightly melted.
Three different layers form three scrumptious textures.
Tip: While dinner is cooking, bake these showstoppers. By the time you’ve finished eating and washed the dishes, these brownies will have cooled down and be ready to eat.
Get the recipe: S’more Brownies
Browse more of Food Network’s brownie recipes.
Start preparing for Cinco de Mayo with this easy dessert. Using your favorite boxed brownie mix, add ground chipotle chile powder and cinnamon to the batter for a Mexican twist on a traditional dessert. Top each brownie with a scoop of dulce de leche ice cream.
Get the recipe: Mexican Brownies
Browse Food Network’s Cinco de Mayo feast for more Mexican-inspired recipes.
- Bake Ina's Outrageous Brownies for the ultimate share-able sweet.
Sure, lots of brownie mixes are good, especially when dolled up with special touches. (Paula, Giada and the Neelys all have short-cut, dressed-up mix recipes.) So why bother baking from-scratch, homemade brownies – measuring, melting and mixing with precision? Your brownies will be different. . . in a good way. Just browse recipes and start making choices: cakey or fudgy, bittersweet or semi-sweet, melted bars or cocoa powder, nuts or no nuts, chips or no chips? In a crowd of boxed brownie taste-memories, yours will stand out from the crowd. So get baking!
- No need to halve a brownie recipe -- leftovers travel well and are always appreciated.
Our Top Brownie Recipes:
Ina’s Outrageous Brownies (pictured above)
Alton’s Cocoa Brownies
Ina’s Peanut Swirl Brownies
Ellie’s Slimmed-Down Brownies
Nigella’s Triple Chocolate Brownies
Bobby’s Peanut Butter Caramel Swirled Brownies
Paula’s Toffee Brownies
Chocolate Brownie Crunch
Giada’s Espresso Brownies
What’s your favorite brownie recipe?
- Competitor Andrea Gaskins's Apple Crisp Bread Pudding
After four weeks of savory showdowns, bakers finally took the spotlight on Ultimate Recipe Showdown last Sunday. The Cakes and Desserts competition was a sweet tooth’s fantasy: Layer cakes, cupcakes, crisps and cobblers, brownies (topped with cookie dough!) and more.
Food Network Kitchens’ Katherine Alford, our in-house URS judge, is back this week to share some tips for baking perfection. And for those days when there’s barely enough time to preheat the oven, she gives her favorite quick and simple dessert ideas.
FN Dish: This round can be tough timing-wise, since most of the cakes have to bake and then cool down enough to be frosted. Any tips for speeding up this process when you’re in a time crunch and need to get the frosted cake to a party?
Katherine Alford: Cakes really do need time to ripen. Not just for icing, but also for flavor. Smaller is better obviously, like a cupcake—they cool down quicker. But always cool a cake on a rack out of the pan, and cool the layers separately. Pop it in the fridge first to cool it down and then move it to the freezer.
FN Dish: Cupcakes are huge right now. Can you make any cake recipe into cupcakes, or are there some that don’t work as well? What should you keep in mind when using a cake recipe to make cupcakes?
KA: Simple cakes often work as cupcakes, but not always. I think chocolate works better. Don’t over-fill the molds and bake for less time. Sarah Copeland, one of our recipe developers and a cupcake expert, suggests, too, that dense cakes (like carrot cake) make better cupcakes. The airy sponge cakes just get flat and tend to leak over the sides. Thick cake batters (dense cakes) hold their shape better and sometimes even dome a touch in muffin tins.
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